Stretch, sag, wiggle

Or a post for teachers whose heads haven’t exploded recently

I write

I write stories

I write fantasy stories

One day I wrote  a fantasy story about mermaids.


What? Is that what you’re wondering? Or is it closer to WTF?

English: Photo of M.A.K. Halliday

Well, the past three days, I have attended a language course based on Michael Halliday’s systemic functional linguistic model of language. I went for three reasons: I am a writer, I am teacher, I am an advocate for improving the language curriculum.

Given that I was that motivated, checking that a colleague could bring my kid to school, booking one hotel, finding two different babysitters to bring my kid home from school, booking two flights, planning three days cover for my class and taking four taxi journeys didn’t seem an insurmountable thing to organise (especially as I didn’t have to organise the hotel or flights). But as shown above, my head has exploded.

I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. One of my colleagues is always saying that learning is about tension and comfort zones (I think he means Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development, but we’ll stick with the tension image for now). Without tension, there is no learning because otherwise we are always in our comfort zone.  So let’s imagine it as an elastic band that’s being stretched and then released, stretched is the tension, release is the comfort zone. Thursday afternoon my elastic stretched so far it snapped. It’s a feeling I’ve not encountered for a long time, probably not since secondary school and faced with quadratic equations, or a particular English lit tutor at uni who evidently didn’t like Romantic literature and yet taught it.

Rubber band (Elastic). Deutsch: Gummibänder

While this situation has been a tad painful for me, it’s also been a good reminder to me as a teacher. Going back to the elastic band analogy, stretching is good (boy if the course wasn’t stretching me, I would be an even more vociferous moaner). Saggy elastic is good too. Snapping is bad. So, in my head this is what I think I’ve learnt (or rather been reminded of) so far: stretch, sag, wiggle elastic round finger for a bit, stretch again, sag, wiggle and on and on and on. Have you got it?

With that, I’m going to leave you, because while I have been denaturalising the natural, the fridge has emptied, the dust has gathered, clothes are dirty and I think there’s a couple of characters who are calling me and telling me to get a shift on because they haven’t seen each other for a long time and I still haven’t written that reunion scene yet. Oh and what’s that? I have to do all the readings for the course and do the last two days?

Stretch, sag, wiggle…


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